Written in collaboration with Emma Ramsbottom Wagner
We have been using a program called Lucidchart to create program roadmaps, or logic models, and wanted to share our experience with it.
How we have used it
We are evaluating a community grants initiative that includes 16 different grantees. One component of the evaluation was to work with each grantee to create a program roadmap, or logic model, of their planned work. We also planned to update the program roadmaps throughout the grant cycle as the grantees’ work evolved.
We used Word and PowerPoint in the past for this type of work, but this time we tried out Lucidchart. We purchased a Team subscription, which is $27 per month for three users (or $9/user). This allowed a few employees to be working in Lucidchart simultaneously, which was important for us. There are single user options at a lower cost, and you can also test out a free account to get a sense as to whether Lucidchart will meet your needs.
With this particular project, we created the program roadmaps in Lucidchart, and then saved them as image files and pasted them into a Word document that included additional information related to the grant program. You also have the option to save the Lucidchart document as a PDF.
Here is an example of one of the program roadmaps we created:
There are probably a lot of features of Lucidchart that we haven’t even used yet, but here are some of our favorite features.
Lines. As simple as it may sound, adding and adjusting lines is one of the best features of Lucidchart. This is really important when you have something like a program roadmap that is all about lines and linkages. This has also been really helpful as we make changes and updates to the program roadmaps. We feel the lines are a lot easier to maneuver than in PowerPoint.
Alignment. Alignment and equal spacing is a cinch in Lucidchart. There are guides that indicate if something is aligned with a nearby object or if multiple objects are equally spaced apart. This is similar to the guides in PowerPoint 2016.
Color. Though not specific to Lucidchart, we appreciated being able to color code the various categories of the program roadmaps so that, for example, it was easy for the funder to see the components of each grantee’s intervention in yellow and their outcomes in green.
Flexibility. It’s nice to start with a blank slate and have the ability to easily move objects wherever you need. Lucidchart is similar to PowerPoint in this way. They also have a variety of templates to choose from, which can sometimes be helpful for a starting point.
Exporting. There are a few options for exporting the document (PDF, PNG, JPEG), and we were happy with the quality of the images we exported.
Sharing with others. The Lucidchart Team subscription made it really easy to share drafts with other team members and track edits over time.
Lucidchart vs. PowerPoint
If you find yourself making a lot of program roadmaps, theories of change, or flowcharts, Lucidchart is a great option. Since it is meant for making diagrams, it makes the creation and design process very quick and easy. As their website says, Lucidchart is all about “diagrams done right.”
Here are a few considerations if you are debating whether to use Lucidchart or PowerPoint:
- Cost: PowerPoint is free if you have MS Office whereas Lucidchart costs $5-$27/month, depending on the subscription.
- User-friendliness: It is easier and quicker to create lines and shapes and attain proper alignment in Lucidchart.
- Collaborating with team members: This is possible with PowerPoint using OneDrive, but it is easier in Lucidchart.